February Wrap Up at The Educators' Spin On It

It's been a big "LEAP" for us this Year into this blogging adventure we call The Educators' Spin On It.  We want to extend a warm welcome to all of our newest Followers!  We also want to extend our gratitude to our continued followers!  We're so glad that you've joined us and love hearing from you.  Thank you so much for sharing our site with friends and families and most importantly your children.   

Here at The Educators' Spin On It we try our very best to Parent with Purpose.  We enjoy sharing "Our Spin" on things that we post each week.  As Educators and as Parents we're always looking for ways to make learning playful and playtime meaningful.  February was filled with heartfelt fun and learning.  Here's what we were up to! 

"Our Spin" of February at The Educators' Spin On It  
  1. Afterschool Express: Decorating for Valentine's Day
  2. Baby Time: Ideas for Creating and Storing Toy Stations
  3. Baby Time: My First Scribbles
  4. Bilingual Babies: Paper Bag Color Book
  5. Kids in the Garden: The Indoor Garden
  6. Little Hands That Cook with Books: Dairy Group~ Balanced Eating Series
  7. Tot school - Literacy Development
  8. Little Hands That Cook with Books: Grains Group~Balanced Eating Series
  9. Afterschool Express: Colorful Heart Fun
  10. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Themed Resources
  11. The Learning Garden - How to Grow Potatoes
  12. Baby Time: Valentine's Day Activities
  13. Afterschool Express: President's Day
  14. Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire Book and Activites
  15. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Healthy Fun
  16.  Baby Time: It's Not Just A Diaper Change
  17. Bilingual Babies: Family Book
  18. Tot School - toy organization at our house
  19. The Learning Garden - Starting Seeds Indoors
  20. Afterschool Express: On the Hunt for Spring


Our LOVE BOOKS and Activity Swap has come to an end.  Thank you so much for all who participated!  If you're interested in the Summer Book and Activity Swap just email us at theeducatorsspinonit@gmail.com.  Until then please share your Book and Activity Idea on our LOVE BOOK tab at the top of our pages or by clicking here!  There are already MANY Books and Activities listed for you to read and create with your child. 


Additional Resources from February
  1. Bilingual Babies - Finding Second Language Resources
  2. Gardening with Kids- The Heirloom Life Gardener Re...
  3. Top Ten Reasons I Love Sharing Valentine's Day with My Children
  4. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Dr Seuss
This is our assortment of activities that we enjoy sharing each week with you.


Did you MISS January's Wrap Up?  

Dr. Seuss Inspired Snack Ideas

Dr. Seuss Inspired Activities for Kids at The Educators' Spin On It
We're joining to celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday and NEA's Read Across America Day! Here are some of our favorite's from Dr. Suess that we'll be including in our Little Hands that Cook with Books and Dr. Seuss this week. 

Bilingual Babies - Finding Second Language Resources

I was recently asked where I find my resources that I use to teach our children Russian.  This is an excellent question and although I will tell you where to find resources to teach Russian as a second language, you can use these same ideas to find the language your family is learning!
1. In-laws and Friends - The first place I always start is by asking anyone who lives in Russia to send or bring us learning materials.  The things I ask for are
  • Traditional books, (not an English book translated into Russian, but a true Russian written book).
  • Talking books or books with a battery component
  • ABC puzzles and blocks
  • Kids workbooks and educational primers
  • Learning Posters
  • CD's and DVD's Sesame Street (Улица Сезам) is produced in many countries around the world and is an organization I would recommend looking into.  The show format is the same and they address age appropriate concepts, but videos do not just translate the USA version, rather are created specifically for that country.   These DVD's are not readily available due to cost (around $20 each), but my in-laws are able to pre-order them from one specific media store in their city.
Here is a short video about how I organize my book shelf to include these Russian books.



2.  Another way to get some of the above items are online stores such as Amazon.  This gets tricky with languages like Russian, because materials are not as readily available, but some products do exist.



3. You Tube - there are many videos available in other languages, but I strongly urge you to PREVIEW without children present.  Some of the content is not appropriate for children.  I have several videos on our playlist and will let the children watch them once in a while.  Here are some links to the Russian videos I may show my children.

We've even made our own You Tube videos, which brings me to the next way we get our learning resources!


4. Make your own.  We often find ourselves making the majority of our own learning materials. 
  • My husband translates books, magazines, and posters.  He just writes the Russian translation into the book using a permanent marker next to the words in English. Here are some more ideas!
  • He will also write a sentence on a piece of paper and let the children illustrate it to create our own simple posters. We have been talking about spring this week and each child told him what they liked to do outside in the spring.  It says, "I like to swing on the swing in spring,"  in Russian of course!  We then put these pictures on our fridge and re-visit them daily to give the children multiple exposures to the vocabulary. I may ask her to point to a specific word, read it to me, or tell me something else she likes to do in the spring.
  • I also make worksheets and easy reading books for the kids
    My most recent packet uses dot-markers to learn the Cyrillic Letters.  It is available for
    purchase at Teachers Notebook.
Both Kim and I are trying to parent with purpose.  We feel that early and continued exposure to another language is important for our children.  On many Monday's we will continue to bring you helpful tips, advice, and stories on our adventures raising biligual children.  Although I am teaching my children Russian and she is teaching her children Hindi, the tips, advice, and stories may inspire you to spend more time interacting with your children in the language your family chooses! 


On the Hunt for Spring

Grab your camera  and off we go! 

A new season is starting to sneak up on us... at least down here in the South. 

Spring Activities for Kids including Journal and Observation Sheet


Teaching our children to become observers is a vital lesson in life.  We're going on a walk around our neighborhood to see if we can spot signs of Spring.  Do you see it yet in your neighborhood? 

The Learning Garden - Starting Seeds Indoors

I have never been very successful at starting seeds inside. As a matter of fact, I have tried unsuccessfully for 3 years to start tomatoes and peppers inside. Each year, I start the seeds and for one reason or another, end up buying transplants at the local Feed and Seed store. This year, I have received a Southern Small Garden Seed Bucket from Baker Creek Seeds to review for all of you and I am determined to have some healthy transplants for my garden this spring! Please note that I have no special training in gardening, but that I enjoy teaching my children about the world, having them learn about food and where it comes from, and being able to pick fresh produce to feed our family.

While we were living in an apartment, we belonged to a local organic crop share (CSA) Each week we picked up a bag of in-season produce that was grown by our farmers. We learned to cook with foods that we had never even considered before and our kids learned to like greens like Kale and Escarole. This Small Garden Bucket reminded me of why we joined the CSA. There are more than 15 types of vegetables and 30 varieties. It was full of seeds to plant and many of them are not ones that I would have selected based on their catalog description, therefor encouraging me to "plant outside my comfort zone" as one reviewer stated. I also purchased several seed packets of my own as well. There were some Russian Heirloom Varieties that I just couldn't resist trying!!!


I asked the staff at Baker Creek for their seed starting suggestions, this is what Kathy wrote to me;
"As for backyard garden tips: pay attention to shade and/or lack thereof when planting, keep seeds moist when sprouting, and then keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Be sure to thin the radishes after they come up so they will have room to grow. Thinned plants can be used in salads. Take lots of photos and keep a journal throughout the process. You should find planting instructions on the back of each seed packet. We wish you successful gardening. "


So today, I am going to try and limit myself to writing about my indoor starts, mainly tomatoes and peppers. I wrote a post about using seeds vs transplants here.  As you can see by the first picture, my seeds have sprouted - YIPEEE!!!! I planted them in re-used containers; ones from flats of flowers others in plastic strawberry containers.  I know they recommend using the seed starting soil, but that stuff is expensive, so I put garden soil in half of each little pot and then used the seed starting soil on the top.  As Kathy suggested, I kept the seeds moist.  As the seed packet explained they needed to be "surface sown," meaning planted on top of the dirt with little or no dirt covering them.  I thought this was unusual as I have always covered my seeds, but as I said before I have never been successful, so I was up for trying it!


I planted 2 seeds in each compartment and I will cut off the weaker looking plant.  Out of the 9 tomato varieties I planted, 8 had 100 percent germination rate.  Or so I thought.  Can you tell by the above picture that this orange and green variety had no seeds germinate?  I was SO disappointed.  Then, I looked at the cells next to it...


Yes, this is what happens when you garden with a 2 and 5 year old!  It will be a mystery of which it which!  

Now that I figured out that I can start the seeds, my problem is going to be making sure that they plants don't get "leggy."  I have them in the only Southern facing window in our house and they do get sun light.  It would be really cool to have a grow light, but they just are not in a small gardeners budget.  For the time being, my kids are having fun pretending to be the "wind" and blowing on the seedlings whenever they have the chance.  I'm trying to keep them moist and crossing my fingers for some healthy transplants!

If you are considering starting a garden (or if you already have one) I strongly urge you to check out the amazing selection of organic, no GMO, heirloom seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!  Their shipping is reasonably (a flat rate) and their seed packets average around $2.00 each.  After placing my personal order, I had the seeds in my hands in 4 days, so they are fast too! You can't beat 100% germination either!

For more of our kids in the garden posts with ideas on how to use your garden as a learning garden, click here!




Toy Organization at Our House

Toy Organization for Toddlers and Preschoolers from The Educators' Spin On It

The Playroom

I, Amanda,  like to think of my dining room, aka playroom, as our classroom.  I think about the things that I want my tot to interact with and learn about during his day and make sure that he has the space to do these things. (Don't worry, we still have a table and eat meals together as a family in our tiny breakfast nook area!)  Like Kim talked about here, using stations is a great way to stay organized. 

This month, I am focusing on reading, interacting with books, and pretend play. You can see that I have a kitchen station and a reading station set up in our playroom.  The shelf my husband built for our books lets each book sit facing towards the room.  It may not hold a lot of books, but the kids are more inclined to read them when they see the covers rather than the book's spine. For all the small kitchen related food and toys, I keep a basket near the kitchen.  We tried putting them back in the kitchen, but it wasn't working.  A basket to stuff the small items into is suiting our family much better. 

Toy Rotation

It's Not Just A Diaper Change

Sometimes changing a diaper can mean a lot more to your baby than you think. 

Tips for Baby Diaper Changing Time for Parents for even the most active babies and toddlers from The Educators' Spin On It


How many times do you change a diaper in your child's day?  I know I've stopped counting by this point with my daughter.  But here's a secret, don't tell my husband or else it's my job forever, but I enjoy the time it takes to change my children's diapers.  I know it sounds funny but it's true and I hope you'll agree with me on why. 

Quality Time with Babies During Diaper Changing 

Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Healthy Foods


Let's talk about Eating Heart Healthy Food with Little Hands that Cook with Books! We love our children and want what is best for them and their health.  I thought this would be the perfect time to teach our little ones about their heart and how to make it strong and healthy. 

Heart Healthy Books

Here are some book we found to learn about our Heart. {Contains Amazon Affiliate links}  

Hear Your Heart (Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science: Stage 1 by Paul Showers 

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen


American Heart Association Kids' Cookbook


My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

I just added this one for fun.  We had fun creating Heart Animals inspired from this book. 

Make your Heart Healthy Energy Bar

They're so easy to make at home, not to mention versatile (you can play around with the types of nuts and additional dried fruits you use)  We decided it would be fun to make our own Larabar-type energy bars. All you need is a food processor, dried fruit (mostly dates), nuts, and spices. Here's a basic recipe (the amounts are approximate) Since you are using a food processor with child present please use extreme caution.  Children can be great helpers but this is a perfect time to talk about kitchen safety and following directions at all times in the kitchen. 

Heart Healthy Energy Bars

Ingredients


  • 1 pound of dates
  • 1 cup of nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • Couple of dried apricots
  • Spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Handful of coconut flakes

Directions


  1. Put the dates and nuts into the food processor
  2. Chop the dates and any other dried fruits that you are using in a food processor(Adult Job).
  3. Scoop the resulting paste aside
  4. Finely grind the nuts and spices. (Adult Job)
  5. Mix the fruits and nuts together, kneading the mixture into a lightly greased pan (or one that is covered in wax paper).
  6. Flatten the mixture down by covering it with plastic wrap and pressing down and shaping with the back of a spoon.
  7. Then cool in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. Cut the mixture into individual bars or use a COOKIE Cutter to create shapes, tightly wrapping each with plastic wrap and storing in the refrigerator

Other Great Sources for Energy Bar Recipes

Heart Healthy Recipes from the American Heart Association

Heart Healthy Activities for Kids 

After reading our books about our heart we played a few activities. 
  • Can you Feel It?
Exercise is so important for children and adults.  We spent some time talking about ways that we can move to make our heart move and exercise and made a list.  We also played a game called "Can You Feel it" to find out if we can feel our hearts beating.  As we were doing the lesson I had them feel their hearts during idle moments and then I would have them do different activities to change their heart rates.  We recorded our results on which activities made our hearts exercise and added some more suggestions. 
  • Activities for Heart Healthy Game  
Jumping Jacks
Listening to story
Push Ups
Coloring picture
Sit ups
Yoga Pose-Butterfly
Dancing
Mixing ingredients


  • Mommy and Me Heart Themed Movement Activities 
Week 1

  • Heart Healthy Food Sort
I created pictures of foods that are heart healthy and foods that are not so healthy.  We played a game by sorting them into groups
  • Heart Healthy Facts Printable


Printables for Heart Healthy Activities from Nourish Interactive

The American Heart Association recommends this eating pattern for families:
  • Energy (calories) should be adequate to support growth and development and to reach or maintain desirable body weight.
  • Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age and between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4 to 18 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Choose a variety of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients.
  • Eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight for your height and build. Be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Serve whole-grain/high-fiber breads and cereals rather than refined grain products. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on the food label and make at least half your grain servings whole grain. Recommended grain intake ranges from 2 oz./day for a one-year-old to 7 oz./day for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, while limiting juice intake. Each meal should contain at least 1 fruit or vegetable. Children’s recommended fruit intake ranges from 1 cup/day, between ages 1 and 3, to 2 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy. Recommended vegetable intake ranges from ¾ cup a day at age one to 3 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Introduce and regularly serve fish as an entrée. Avoid commercially fried fish.
  • Serve fat-free and low-fat dairy foods. From ages 1–8, children need 2 cups of milk or its equivalent each day. Children ages 9–18 need 3 cups.
  • Don’t overfeed. Estimated calories needed by children range from 900/day for a 1-year-old to 1,800 for a 14–18-year-old girl and 2,200 for a 14–18-year-old boy.
This eating pattern supports a child's normal growth and development. It provides enough total energy and meets or exceeds the recommended daily allowances for all nutrients for children and adolescents, including iron and calcium.
Source:  American Heart Association

This post was written to promote the heart project.  Need more info?  What is The Heart Project

Hope your little ones enjoy learning about their heart and how important it is to our health.  If you are looking for more Healthy Eating Tips stop by our Food Groups Series called Balanced Eating Fun from Little Hands that Cooks with Books
Wishing you Happy Healthy Hearts!  

Bilingual Babies: Family Book

Since it was Valentine's Day last week we worked on making cards for our Family members.  To encourage my Bilingual Babies to use Hindi I had my daughter create her cards with the family members names in Hindi. 

As a fun activity we created our own spin of a Family Book based off of Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle  from Playing with Words 365 into a Hindi Book For them to read.  You can create your own too with the language you're working on with your child. 


I had my daughter assemble the book with me by finding simliar words and then glueing on the family member pictures.  Then I had her write the name as well into the book with her own Hindi handwriting.  We had to use this little cheat sheet I created, it goes at the end of our book to help us out if we ever need to look something up.  I'll be posting a printable version for you to use on Teacher's Notebook next week along with our Brown Bear, Brown Bear version in Hindi.   

Here's a printable you can use to Make your Own Family Book. 


Daddy Daddy Who Do You See? from Playing with Words 365

Playing With Words 365

We also created a Family Book for my littlest on using this inspiration from our Pinterest Board.  All you do is add Family Pictures and Names onto a Board Book that maybe isnt' your favorite book or that you got from a restaurant.   

Picture Book by Chef Messy

Here are our Family Hindi Words that we added to our Family Picture Book in Hindi. 

Have fun learning family names in another language! 






President's Day Activities for Kids

Exploring President's Day with kids can be a lot of fun.  One of the first things that come to mind is money sense we can find both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on them.  Here are some ideas to do at home or school with your child in honor of our founding fathers.  Plus we've included a free printable book for President's Day too.  
President's Day Activities for Kids from The Educators' Spin On It

Kids in the Garden: The Indoor Garden



Are you not quite ready for outdoor gardening to start? Still cold and snowing outside?   Start indoors with Bulbs.  Here's a great way to teach your children about gardening Indoors. 

We had fun watching and journaling about our Paperwhite that has grown over the past month.  Each day when my daughter would wake up she'd go over and look at her plant that was growing and talk about the changes.  Teaching your child the skill of observation and patience is a skill they need in life. 


Make a Plant Journal

We recorded our observations in a Plant Journal.  As she was observing the changes she would draw a picture in the plant journal.  To encourage writing she would also write about the changes she was observing.  I encouraged her to look for differences and similarities from the last time she look at the plant.  She's also working on memory skills too.  Here's an example of some of the things that what she wrote

I put the bulbs in the dirt today. 
My plant is growing green leaves.
My plant grew 2 inches. 
My plant has a round bump at the top of the leaf. 
The bump is getting bigger. 
It's here!  I see a white flower! 
Now there are three white flowers!


We added this cute little heart to the pot as the plant start growing.  It was a great way to see the physical growth of the Living plant in comparison to a Non Living Object.  One of the benchmarks your child will work on learning in school is Living vs Non Living, here's a quick way to give them a living example of it. 


We were incorporating our math skills too. We would use a ruler to measure how tall the bulbs had grown.   I'd have her make a number sentence using the numbers that she  had documented.  We measured it once a week so we would have bigger numbers to work with.  Here's an example of the number sentences we used. 2+1=3, 3+2=5, 5+3=8, 8+4=12.It was a lot of fun to see the numbers changing and seeing her try to figure out how to create a number sentence with that.  


Hope you have fun creating your own Plant Journal with your child.  Plant Journals will be fun to do  with the plants in your Garden too!   Amanda's going to post about how her seeds are doing indoors and transplating them with your children next.  Can't wait to read about. 

Need more ideas for having your Kids in the Garden?  Check them out! 
Starting Seeds Indoors
How to Grow Potatoes
Make Plant Labels to Teach Reading
Growing Peas  
Seeds vs. Transplants
Learning to Love Vegetables
Living vs Non-Living Printable  

Spring is coming.  We're going on a Hunt for Spring today, I can't wait to share our discoveries with you this week.     
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